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UW center targets moonshots in materials science

Students in materials science
College students work with researchers as part of the UW Clean Energy Institute’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program. (UW Clean Energy Institute Photo / Matt Hagen)

The University of Washington has received a $15.6 million, six-year grant from the National Science Foundation to fund its Molecular Engineering Materials Center and take on “moonshots” that could lead to cleaner energy, advanced light-based electronics and quantum computing.

The grant was awarded as part of the NSF’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center program, or MRSEC. Funding was provided to continue work at six MRSEC centers and start up three more centers, including UW’s.

UW’s center brings together an initial team of 15 faculty members, including researchers who work at the university’s Clean Energy Institute and Molecular Engineering and Sciences Institute.

The first targets for research are nanocrystals, quantum dots and thin films. Those technologies could produce solar-concentrating window coverings to boost photovoltaic cells for energy conversion, as well as ultra-thin semiconductors for energy generation, optoelectronics and exotic computing applications.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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